Om Sweet Om

Om Sweet Om

The Yoga of “24”

With “24″, “Lost”, and “Law and Order” all saying their goodbyes — and all rife with spiritual significance and religious symbolism — I wondered about a possible Hindu connection. Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t a devotee of any of the three shows (my 1st season LOST addiction notwithstanding). So I turned to my friend and avowed “24”-fanatic, Pragnesh Surti to muse on a connection between the show and his Hindu faith. Here’s his guest-post.  

24face.jpgAs one of many thousands of “24” fans worldwide, I was relieved to see Jack Bauer survive “the
longest day” of his life, yet again.  Monday nights were a fixture in
my house (and countless others) as we all gathered around the television to see Jack make it through another fantastical hour– leaving us
wondering how much more he can take.   He was indeed a modern hero,
whose daring escapades left us cheering him on and wanting more.  


Stay tuned folks; the
will be out soon enough.

Such is the wonder and attraction of a
good story: dynamic characters, epic dilemmas, and  the ever-present intertwining of perennial yet relevant topics such as the
struggle of good vs. evil, the pursuit of truth or justice, and
messages of hope, peace, or happiness.  As universal as these themes are, I think it’s fair to say that such stories also serve as an
outlet for most of us to vicariously experience what it’s like to achieve
something fantastic and amazing, and probably something beyond the
scope of our day to day lives.

For me, this is not something


amar_page.gifAs a child, I regularly read the stories of Lord Krishna,
Rama, and other epic heroes
from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita and other stories recounted in the pages
of Vedic literature (courtesy of Amar Chitra Katha comics).  This was a
regular activity in my house (keep in mind that there was not much to brag about on
local TV in 1983).  


My love of illustrated scripture evolved into reading Marvel
. I also read
about the exploits of
Sherlock Holmes
or his youthful and modern counterpart, Encyclopedia Brown.   Even in school I felt drawn to the heroic — figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Abe Lincoln, and Charlemagne. And now in
our present day, come heroes like Jack Bauer.

So, what is this  fascination with heroism?

While in college, I read  Joseph Campbell‘s The Power of Myth
and was struck by his description of the hero’s path:


“… we have not even to risk adventure alone, for
the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly
known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path … Where we
thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own
existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the

(chapter 5, introduction)

As a Hindu, I take solace in
statements like this, which encourage us to take help from those who
tread the same path we may be on now, mythically or in real-time.  I
think of this connection as a kind of yoga (which
literally means “union”). By watching or
hearing about the hero’s activities and qualities, we learn to develop
appreciation for and connection to those qualities that has an impact on
our lives.  Though
not necessarily tangible, that connection can be very real and


24-jack-bauer-glass.jpgI think this is why “24” was so successful and resonated with so many of
us. We felt strongly connected to Jack Bauer. We walked in his shoes,
felt his pain, and joined in his victories. The show’s hour-by-hour
day-in-the-life format made this connection even stronger, and blurred
the line between the mythical and real-time.   


Jack Bauer had many opportunities to prove himself
worthy of being called a hero to his audience.  In the final season, he
was ultimately pitted alone — against the rest of the known world —
to decide for himself what is right and wrong, while relentlessly
pursuing the truth.

His determination to succeed at any cost could
serve as an inspiration to people everywhere. I certainly felt inspired
by his character, and maybe even closer to discovering “the center of
my own existence.”  Just don’t expect me to knock down doors and blow up
cars every time I feel the need to “pursue the truth.” 

leave that to the professionals.

Pragnesh Surti is an architect and designer by day, and a
“24”-inspired super hero by night.

  • James Morrison

    You put a wonderfully made and timely drama into a unique perspective and you did it beautifully, thanks. Namaste.

  • Heather

    I agree with James! Great job on the article. I never even thought to see my all-time favorite show in that perspective until I read this!

  • http://http::// Rhonda

    Very nice post. Whether its Gilgamesh, Paul Bunyan or Jack Bauer, we will always love stories about our heroes. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

  • Matthew Malecki

    Of all the television series I have enjoyed, I must say my all time favorite has been ’24’. It was the one hour a week unlike no other. It was the one time I could truly forget all the distractions in my daily life & be intensely focused on the story portrayed on my television. It moved me not only by the suspense, but it also moved me emotionally. And all this time, I didn’t know exactly why. But your article has shed light on why I felt this way. And now, thinking back to that brilliant final scene, it is now so obvious.

  • Amy Cunningham

    Thank you so much for this post. My thirteen year old son has always loved super heroes and ancient myths. You tie it (them) all together nicely here. I think I’m going to have the Campbell quote read at his upcoming bar mitzvah! This was a blessing! I am grateful. AC

  • Anan E. Maus

    24 is a fun spy thriller TV show.
    In the real world torture is not only one of the most hideous things human beings do to each other, it actually is not that effective, since people screaming in pain tend to say anything to get out of it…including tons and tons and tons of lies.
    but hey, it is TV.
    While 24 is fun TV, it is abysmal as actual US politics.
    To take it completely through the looking glass, if you want to ascribe it to the search for God, I guess you can.
    But probably a lot easier to accomplish that search through prayer, meditation, acts of charity and obedience to all the spiritual disciplines and morality.
    I am pretty sure that walking around armed to the teeth and torturing everyone in your way gets you to the hot place down below…

  • Rev Brian

    I am a Buddhist Priest and I have been using Jack Bauer as a Hero in my Dharma talks for some years. Jack Bauer IS a modern Jizo, he goes thru the world doing good. And Harry Potter is just a younger version of Jack. I call it living the Buddha Way….

  • Yogi Glenn

    The character Jack Bauer was, perhaps, the most ingenious created on either TV or the big screen. In fact, his exploits the last three weeks of the series made James Bond and Rambo combined look like cowards.

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